Phone2Action: Grassroots Advocacy from the Palm of Your Hand

March 20, 2013

4:24 pm

Step 1: Write email to elected official.

Step 2: Spend 15 minutes online determining to whom it should be sent.

Step 3: Eat cheesecake to resolve any resulting frustration and confusion.

Advocacy is an essential component of our political system. It is through advocacy that our elected officials learn of our concerns; without it, public policy decisions and government priorities will no longer reflect the beliefs or views of citizens. However, traditional advocacy is plagued with inefficiencies in both the methods through which supporters are mobilized and the mediums through which advocates engage with government officials. Phone2Action helps to alleviate both.

4 - Phone2Action screenshot

From interest and advocacy groups to trade associations and political candidates, Phone2Action aims to engage supporters with “in-the-moment calls-to-action.” It connects those supporters to elected officials through a simple process. First, an organization or cause chooses a keyword that closely matches the purpose of its campaign (e.g., the keyword “KITTY” if the campaign is focused on a contingent Cat Voting Rights bill). Then, supporters text KITTY to Phone2Action’s shortcode (52-886). They receive an auto-reply text message (that the orgnaization creates) with links to mobile sites or one of Phone2Action’s customizable mobile web apps.

In the case of KITTY, supporters may receive a link to a mobile web app featuring a pre-populated email (written by someone in the organization) on why cats deserve the right to vote. Finally, all supporters have to do is insert their name and zip code, and Phone2Action sends that email directly to their congressperson; absolutely no time is wasted going online and searching for the exact officials to contact.

“We noticed that most of the activities people traditionally engaged in via computer were transitioning or had transitioned to mobile, and the advocacy industry was falling behind because of the lack of tools,” say cofounders Jeb Ory and Ximena Hartsock. “Advocacy organizations needed tools that acknowledge[d] the fast-paced and changing environment that surrounds the legislative advocacy process.”

By physically removing the reliance on the computer, Phone2Action allows an organization or cause to engage in fundraising, conduct real-time polling, write and send petitions and letters, acquire new members or supporters, and communicate with supporters literally from the palms of their hands. Phone2Action significantly eases the advocacy process by providing this capacity to help build entire mobile campaigns within a matter of minutes.

Phone2Action won the SXSW Accelerator for news technology and was a showcased startup at the Tech Cocktail SXSW mixer.


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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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